Republic of Karelia
A key region for cross-border cooperation, known as “songland” and “timberland”

The 172,400 square kilometer region has a 723 km long border to Finland and a close historical connection with the neighboring country. The region also has a substantial part of its economy oriented towards the Finnish market and several border passes and major cross-border travelling connect the two republics.

Karelia has an economy dominated by forestry, mining and metallurgy, and tourism. Among the key regional natural resources are forest lands and iron ore.

The region has Europe’s two biggest lakes, the Ladoga and the Onega.

There is a well-developed railway infrastructure in the region, but there is only modest air traffic, all of it concentrated in the regional capital of Petrozavodsk.

Karelia has a diverse population with several minority groups, among them the Karelians, Finns and Vepsians. Parts of the region was until 1944 part of Finland.


Regional stories

Karelian Tourism Committee shuts down despite record number of visitors
By Gleb Yarovoy, Petrozavodsk State University

Karelian State Committee for Tourism was dissolved upon the decision of the Head of the Republic, Alexander Khudilaynen. As a separate agency, it ran for two years: in June 2013, the Committee was established upon the order of Khudilaynen. From this point onward, the functions of the Committee will pass over to the Ministry of Culture.

Officially, two reasons for the shutting down of the Committee have been voiced. The first reason is a need to bring the structure of the Government of Karelia into accordance with the structure of the Federal Government (in Moscow, the Ministry of Culture is responsible for tourism development). The second reason is “optimization”...

Russian Karelia becomes extinct through natural causes
Over the past 25 years, the number of reported deaths in the republic consistently exceeds the number of births
By Gleb Yarovoy, Petrozavodsk State University

In 2014, the Republic of Karelia lost 1,348 people (7,918 people were born, 9,266 people died). Figures from the republic's official web portal show that, in 2015, the population decline has accelerated: over the past five months (January-May) 4,135 people have died, and only 3,011 babies were born. Thus, in less than half a year, the loss amounted to 1,124 people, which is almost the same number as for the entire 2014.

Some "episodes" of regional statistics are rather shocking: in May 2015, for the first time in many years (or probably over the entire history of collecting statistical data),...

Russian salaries falling
People are forced to cut costs as salaries are shrinking and inflation hikes.
By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

Figures from Patchwork Barents show that the salary level in the Russian north in 2014 declined, the first drop since the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

 The figures, based on data from the Russian Statistical Service, show a similar drop in all the five Barents Russian federal subjects. In Murmansk Oblast, the average annual salary level dropped from $15,160 in 2013 to $13,400 in 2014.  In the Republic of Karelia, salaries fell from $10,360 to $9160, while the oil-rich Nenets AO had a drop from $23,280 to $20,870, BarentsObserver...

Consumer price hike in Barents Russia
By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

The price for a normal Russian food basket is on a rapid increase as inflation in the country surges. Consumer price growth in the five Barents Russian regions in November reached its highest level in six years.

The average inflation rate in five northwest Russian regions in November alone increased by more than one percent, BarentsObserver reports. The trend continued in December. In Murmansk, monthly prices on basic foodstuff like frozen fish, eggs and beef increased more than eight, twelve and six percent respectively, figures from the regional office of the Russian Statistical Service (Rosstat) show.

Inflation in Russia has been stable between 6-9 percent since 2009, and...

Barents hydropower to a plug near you
By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer